A complete men’s wardrobe will include suit coats, sport coats, and at least one blazer. But many men don’t know how to distinguish between them. That can lead to unintended mistakes that will be glaringly obvious to others. Get to know the differences and why they matter, to avoid confusion and look your stylish best.
If it comes with matching pants, it’s a suit coat. Suit coats have a more fitted structure, and are not made for wearing layers underneath (unless it’s the vest of a 3-piece suit). They are for dressier occasions, and the buttons and pockets will blend in, not stand out. If you separate suit coats from their pants and wear them with different combinations, the pairing of dressy with casual may look mismatched. It is always best to avoid dividing suit coats from their pants, if you want to maintain a classic wardrobe style.
Sport coats were originally used for outdoor sports like hunting. They have slightly relaxed fit and are usually made from bulkier, more textured fabrics such as tweed. They often have patch pockets, sewn onto the exterior of the jacket in a visible way. (A suit coat should never have patch pockets.)
The relaxed design makes it easy to wear layers underneath, and sport coats are perfectly suited for more informal occasions. If you’re in jeans and a tee shirt and throw on a handsome sport coat, it will immediately give you a fashion upgrade. Sports coats are also great for travel.
Blazers are more fitted than sport coats but more casual than suit coats, and most modern versions are single-breasted. They are typically distinguished by ornate metal buttons in brass or silver.
Blazers may also have emblems on the breast pocket or wide, colorful, vertical stripes. Those kinds of bold blazers were originally designed to be worn at rowing competitions. If you wear them anywhere except around boats, you may appear out of place.
The most iconic blazer, however, is entirely versatile for many settings and occasions. This type of blazer is derived from the jackets worn by the British Navy in the 1800s. That’s why the most common color is navy blue, and why they often have brass buttons with ship anchor designs on them. You can wear a navy blue blazer with khakis, bright colored pants, jeans, or slacks in muted tones.
Give Yourself Options
Owning wonderful suits, handsome sport coats, and a versatile blazer or two will give some of the most enduring and essential wardrobe components. Knowing how to identify each and how to wear them will give you flexibility, confidence, and a classic signature style.